I refrain most days from getting on my soap box, but there has been a spark in my dwindling flame. After 18 years of being a staunch advocate for Bailey, I am exhausted. However, a spunky, spirited person has entered my life and raised the question why isn’t the Catholic school system finding room for our kids…..STILL.
When Bailey was born, I approached the conversation. Talking with our Pastor and even writing the Archbishop, I was given the pat on the back for being a good mother and then told that lack of money blocks them for being able to service special needs children. I took that to heart and went a step further. I began to raise money and gained a local Catholic school support. The momentum was fast and furious which gave me great hope. Then it stopped. The door closed on that opportunity and I again stood alone.
Now, the conversation has started again, but this time it is another parent igniting the flame. Questioning the reasons and realizing that money has become the excuse. You see, Bailey is a pivotal part of the Catholic community. He provides services as an Altar server, works the concession stand, and has been an assistant coach for the middle school soccer team. These opportunities came from individuals who believed that Bailey has skills and something to offer. He has provided an opportunity for typical kids to understand that he is really no different from them.
Now the Archdiocese is wondering why their enrollment has dropped. They are looking for ways to connect with these families that have chosen other alternatives. What piece of the puzzle they are missing is two fold. One, out of the those enrolled in Religious Education, there are many going to special schools that are focused on learning differences because the Catholic schools cannot meet their needs. Two, there is a disconnect. My experience is that the church shuts the door on those who choose other education options.
What a shame that in the year 2014, the Catholic schools still cannot open their doors to individuals like Bailey. We wanted that education for both of our children, but that didn’t happen. Did Bailey get what he needed? Absolutely. Do I feel that our children deserve a choice in their education? Absolutely.
I could go on about this subject for days, but today, I know God has a plan and his timing is always perfect. Hoping that I witness the time when ALL children are welcomed and their needs met at the school of their choice. You see the God of my understanding believes in ALL children despite their differences.